Preparation Begets the Event – Thank You, Bill McDermott

Bill was right. When I joined SAP, then head of the US Sales Bill McDermott used to tell us preparation begets the event. He was right. The more we prepare the better ready we are to execute.

Whether it is a foul shot, a three pointer to win the game, or a penalty shot shoot out at the end of World Cup or putting to win, or lose, the US Open… preparation is crucial.

But in the world of sales and consulting, I would argue preparation is not enough. Winning is about three things: Preparation, Execution and Follow-Through.

Preparation – whether you are on a team or in an individual performance practice is essential. In an individual sport like golf, tennis or swimming it is about knowing your competition, knowing the field, and knowing yourself. In the team sports of Soccer, Football or Cricket it is not just your individual preparation but that of the entire team. The same is true of sales and the same is true of a consulting engagement. Do you understand you competition, external and internal? Do you know your product? What are your goals? Have you done a solid project plan or blue print?

Execution – You can prepare and practice and practice and practice. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell suggests that truly exceptional people, Bill Gates, Steven Jobs, Kobe Bryant, Tiger Woods, The Beatles all have one thing in common a tremendous amount of practice, over 10,000 hours. But practice wasn’t enough. They had to execute. Tiger still has over 10,000 hours of practice, yet he has failed to win on tour. Execution is doing the right thing, right at the right time. It requires focus and clarity and it requires dedication. As Napoleon Hill says “relentless focus on a higher purpose”. When closing a sale or executing a project it is the basic blocking and tackling that will determine whether your preparation has been worth it. Relentless focus on detail and the outcomes are required.

Follow Through – Any good golfer, batter or quarterback can tell you, without follow through you risk losing everything you have done in steps one and two. If you fail to send the quote, fail to get the next meeting or fail to thank your team… all of those will ultimately lead to failure. Sure you might get that order or you might get that deliverable done, but will you get the trust of your client or your team to stick it out when you are wrong or when you mess up. Follow through is essential.

In over 25 years of global sales and marketing, and now as VP of Strategic Accounts at Bramasol, I have seen many projects and sales cycles succeed and fail. Those that succeeded focused on these critical three items. Those that failed, did so because one element failed.

Over the next few months, I would like to explore each of these in more detail and share some observations from projects and sales cycles that were successful. At Bramasol we believe any business, large or small can be successful and can use technology to help them be more successful. And we believe in putting the client’s best interests first.